Reply To: When to take the Honey crop

David Jones

Hi Ray. The key considerations are: (a) is the honey ripe? (b) Varroa control.  Regarding ripeness: ideally, you want it to be mostly capped.  If it’s not almost fully capped, you need to do fairly assiduous shake tests to ensure you can’t shake unripe honey out of the frames, and only extract the ripe ones.  If you are planning to treat Varroa with Apiguard, that is a 4-6 week treatment period, and (again, ideally) you want the temperature throughout that period to be mostly above the minimum (15deg C) for treatment.  Normally, that can be a bit touch and go by late Sept, so I like to get going by mid-Aug if I can.  This year, who knows!

Obviously, there is potential for conflict between these ideals – waiting for honey to be capped can push back the start of Varroa treatment.  With my kitchen temperature at 30 degrees at 7pm yesterday, I’m maybe less worried than I might usually be – I’m also waiting for the flow to end and honey to be capped – my bees are next to a brassica crop in full flower  #:-/

So you have to make a judgement about the state of your bees and your honey.  Once this heatwave is over, I think it’s time to get supers off asap and Thymol on – any honey they make after that is for them, in my book – but if waiting a week or so will ensure the ripeness of the honey, I’d be prepared to hang on, this year in particular.  I suspect I may be more anxious than average about getting Thymol on before the latter part of August

I’ve not not given you a very definitive statement, but I hope it helps